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ancient Greek formation of infantry. The soldiers were arrayed in rows (8 or 16), with arms at the ready, making a solid block that could sweep bristling through the more dispersed ranks of the enemy. Originally employed by the Spartans, it was developed by Epaminondas of Thebes (d. 362 B.C.). Use of the phalanx reached its apex when Philip II and Alexander the Great used the great Macedonian phalanx (16 deep and armed with the sarissa, a spear c.13 ft/4 m long) to conquer all Greece and the Middle East. Later, the Macedonian phalanx deteriorated and had few Macedonians in it; it was defeated in several battles with the Romans who conquered (168 B.C.) the Macedonians at Pydna. Thereafter the phalanx was obsolete. Because it lacked tactical flexilibity, the phalanx was a better defensive than offensive formation.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in anatomy, one of the small tubular bones of the fingers and toes in vertebrates. The structure of the digits in an animal is closely related to the animal’s way of life.

A convenient way of expressing the number of phalanges in the digits is provided by what is called the phalangeal formula, which gives the number of phalanges in each digit, beginning with the first. For the tailed amphibians and for the ancient terrestrial vertebrates known as the Stegocephalia, the number of phalanges in the first through fourth digits of the forelimbs is expressed by the formula; for the forelimbs of most tailless amphibians, the formula is The hind limbs of the Stegocephalia and tailless amphibians are characterized by the formula, and the hind limbs of the tailed amphibians by the formula 2(1).

Reptiles have a greater number of phalanges, ordinarily, in both the anterior and posterior extremities; among turtles the number may drop to 1 or 2 per digit. The extinct ichthyosaurs had as many as several dozen phalanges; this hyperphalangia increased the flexibility of the extremity that had been transformed into a fin. In birds the forelimb was transformed into a wing and retained only three digits—the second through fourth. The third digit has two or three phalanges; the second and fourth usually have one rudimentary phalanx each.

Among mammals five digits are most frequently found on both anterior and posterior extremities, and the phalangeal formula is The flippers of aquatic mammals (Cetacea) exhibit hyperphalangia. Among flying mammals (Chiroptera) the second through fifth digits are elongated and webbed for flying. The phalanges of the digits of climbing mammals are broadened and are convex on the back side of the extremity and concave on the palm side.

In man each finger and toe, except the thumb and big toe, consists of three phalanges: the proximal, middle, and terminal, or ungual. The thumb and big toe have two phalanges. The proximal phalanges are connected with the heads of the metacarpal bones (in the hand) and the metatarsal bones (in the foot) by means of ball-and-socket joints. The phalanges are connected to each other by hinge joints, which allow the digits to bend and unbend.




a close line formation of the Greek infantry (hoplites) in battle. A phalanx was deployed along the front in eight to 16 ranks, sometimes as many as 25. When a rank comprised 1,000 men, the phalanx could extend for 500 m. It was used as early as the Trojan War but assumed its final form in the sixth century B.C. The formation was refined by Philip II of Mace-don, who added peltasts (seePELTASTS) and cavalry. The large Macedonian phalanx contained 16,384 hoplites, 8,192 peltasts, and 4,096 cavalry.

The main subdivisions of the phalanx were the lochus, consisting of one rank of 16 hoplites, the syntagma, comprising 16 lochi, and the small phalanx, comprising 16 syntagmas. A given maneuver could be executed using combinations of the various subdivisions. The battle formation could also assume various forms, including a square, an echelon unit, or pincers. The phalanx was best suited to frontal attack by hoplites armed with the sarissa, a long pike. The tactical phalanx operated as a single unit and struck with considerable force in a frontal assault. It was relatively immobile, however, and in motion its ranks quickly became disorganized. The formation was used in ancient Rome until the introduction of the maniple in the late fourth century B.C., as well as in later Rome in wars against the barbarians.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


One of the bones of the fingers or toes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. (in Fourierism) a group of approximately 1800 persons forming a commune in which all property is collectively owned
2. Anatomy any of the bones of the fingers or toes
3. Botany
a. a bundle of stamens, joined together by their stalks (filaments)
b. a form of vegetative spread in which the advance is on a broad front, as in the common reed.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Critique: A simply fascinating and informative read that is exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Legion versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World" is an extraordinary, unique, and seminal study that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Ancient History, Military History, and Greco-Roman collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
At the level of MCPJ, the FDS split into two beams bypassing the FDP, while they remerged into a beam at the PIPJ and inserted on the midportion of the middle phalanx [Figure 3].
In this case report, successful operative decompression to improve the circulation was not possible because of full-thickness necrosis of the distal phalanx due to late arrival at the hospital.
"The Phalanx CIWS is an integral element of the Canadian Navy's defence," Terry Manion, RCL vice-president and general manager, said in a statement.
Plain radiography showed that the angle between the proximal growth plate and the distal articular surface of the proximal phalanx was 29[degrees] on the affected side compared with 5.5[degrees] on the contralateral noninjured side (Figure 3).
The RAM missile offers more range than the Phalanx and has "a very good amount of manoeuvrability to deal with challenging threats that have a high amount of manoeuvrability and a high degree of speed," Mr.
tarsometatarsal bone; 2, lateral trochlea; 3, medial trochlea; 4, metatarsophalangeal joint; 5, first phalanx of digit III; 6, second phalanx of digit III; 7, third phalanx of digit III; 8, fourth phalanx of digit 111; 9, first phalanx of digit IV; 10, second phalanx of digit IV; 11, third phalanx of digit IV; 12, fourth phalanx of digit IV; 13, fifth phalanx of digit IV.
Clinical study of toe ulcer and necrosis of the apex of the distal phalanx in 53 cattle.
If the entire distal phalanx was involved, the nail and nail bed were also removed.
According to modern skin processing textbooks (e.g., Andersson & Paulsson 1993, 93; Kairikko 1981, 162), the predator skin should be separated from the paw by cutting the 2nd phalanx in half and by leaving both the 3rd phalanx and the distal end of the 2nd phalanx attached to the skin (see Fig.
All sesamoid fractures and most of the metatarsal, finger phalanx, radius, and clavicle fractures were treated conservatively.